Faytak for Phonetics and Phonology

Do you like phonology? Do you like weird vowels? Today in the Greenberg Room at 12:15, Matt Faytak (Berkeley) will be presenting his analysis of the Kom vowel system, and it is decidedly… exotic (abstract below). Come on by to hear more!

In other soundie news, this month’s P-int Night will be next week on Wednesday 1/16 at Rose and Crown just off University Ave. 7 PM. Be there!

Vowels are attested with a wide range of secondary articulations not involving the tongue body, such as nasalization or pharyngealization. The Grassfields Bantu language Kom (ISO 639-3 bkm, Bantoid, Cameroon) appears to distinguish between vowels with and without an additional coronal and labiodental constriction; similar vowels are attested in other languages of the region (Fransen 1995, Connell 2007).

After a discussion of the phonetics of Kom’s vowel system, I argue that the set of [+high] vowels in Kom consists of four canonical high vowels /i y u ɯ/ and two additional “obstruent vowel” phonemes, which I denote as /z v/, which are consistently realized with significant alveolar and labiodental constriction, respectively. I further argue that diphthong formation, in which the obstruent vowels freely participate, supports this analysis. The Kom vowel system as I analyze it is a major departure from prior work on Kom (Shultz 1993, 1997) and an unusual addition to attested arrangements of vowel systems in the acoustic space delimited by the vocal tract.